Seselj's Radicals rally in Belgrade
The Radicals (SRS), a party led by Vojislav Seselj, held a rally and a protest walk in downtown Belgrade late on Thursday.Source: Beta
The gathering was called to mark the anniversary of the start of NATO's bombing of Serbia, and to protest against the government of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and the Hague Tribunal's ruling in the trial of Radovan Karadzic.
Vojislav Seselj spoke at the rally to say that citizens must state in the April 24 election whether they are for the European Union, where "traditional enemies" of Serbia are members - or for Russia.
He stated that Serbian authorities must ask for the abolition of the Hague Tribunal and request that all Serbs accused by the tribunal can return to Serbia.
Seselj also said that Karadzic was innocent, and found guilty "just because he is a Serb."
"This is a verdict to the entire Serbian people, Serbian history and nation. The Hague Tribunal is creating a new history for us," Seselj said, and added that the tribunal blames only Serbs for all the events in the Balkans.
The SRS leader also stressed the necessity for Serbia to distance itself from NATO, which he called "a criminal alliance."
Seselj said that Serbia had a chance to see "what DOS and SNS rule looks like," saying the latter "indebted the country even more and led it into a deeper economic crisis." Now is the time to see what Radicals in power are like, he added.
Seselj, who is himself accused before the Hague Tribunal, said he would not allow the extradition of three of his associates and fellow party members who are wanted on contempt of court charges. "The Radicals will defend them with their bodies," he said.
The participants in the rally, held under the slogan, "People's revolt against the Vucic regime", carried flags and banners inscribed with messages such as, "With Faith in God, Freedom or Death", images of Ratko Mladic and the words "Serbian hero," and images of Karadzic and Seselj.
Several flares were also lit before the start of the protests.
Among the slogans were, "NATO dropped more bombs on Serbia than all the terrorists in the world."
The first SRS campaign rally in Belgrade was completed with a walk in the central parts of the town. Several thousand people took part, lighting more flares and firecrackers.
Traffic was suspended during the walk, while police were present in force in front of the Presidency building.